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The US postmaster appointed under Trump is still raising alarm – but can he be stopped?

Jake Bittle reports:

Joe Biden this month took another step toward the removal of the controversial postmaster general Louis DeJoy, even as the Trump-era appointee continues to make his mark on the embattled postal service, rolling out new plans to slow down delivery and close postal stations around the country.

DeJoy, a Republican logistics executive, caused a national furor last year over his attempts to slow down mail delivery before the 2020 presidential election, in which millions of Americans voted by mail.

Biden has not said outright whether he wishes to oust DeJoy, although his press secretary, Jen Psaki, has said she is “deeply troubled” by his leadership. Even so, the president lacks the authority to dismiss the postmaster general. That power rests with the USPS Board of Governors, a nine-member panel that can remove DeJoy with a majority vote. There were three vacancies on the board when Biden took office, and he filled those vacancies with Democratic allies earlier this year.

Now the president has taken a further step toward reshaping the board by nominating two new governors to replace those whose terms are expiring. His decision not to renominate the Democratic board chairman, Ron Bloom, is significant, since Bloom was one of DeJoy’s biggest allies on the board and earlier this year said he considered DeJoy “the proper man for the job”.

Indeed, the postmaster general bought as much as $305,000 in bonds from Bloom’s asset management firm earlier this year, according to DeJoy’s financial disclosure paperwork. Bloom has said he doesn’t benefit from the purchase. The asset purchases and Bloom’s continued support for DeJoy led some Democratic senators to say they wouldn’t support Bloom’s renomination.

Even as Biden appears to inch closer to ousting DeJoy, the embattled postmaster general has begun to leave his mark on the agency. DeJoy abandoned his initial attempts to slow down mail delivery ahead of the 2020 election after he faced lawsuits and backlash, but soon after he announced a significant reduction in the agency’s 60,000-member administrative workforce.

DeJoy also released in April a 10-year plan for revamping postal operations. Some provisions are supported by unions and postal advocates, such as a $40bn investment in the agency’s vehicle fleet and logistics network, and modernizing thousands of retail post offices. The plan also calls for an end to a mandate that requires the USPS to fund retiree health benefits decades in advance, which postal management has decried for years as an unnecessary burden on its finances.

DeJoy’s plan would attempt to fill the postal service’s $160bn funding hole through a wide variety of cost-cutting measures.

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